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As We Head into the Holidays, We Must Educate the Community on the Importance of COVID-19 Vaccines

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in children has increased. In fact, the week before Thanksgiving there were at least 141,905 new cases reported in children — which was a full 25 percent of all new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States that week.

Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic. That is a fact based in science!

The SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has classified the new Omicron variant as a “Variant of Concern.” New information is rapidly evolving regarding the Omicron variant virus. To keep our community safe, we must make sure that everyone who is eligible for the vaccine receives it, including a booster shot. We must also continue to follow masking guidelines.

The reason we continue to see an uptick in cases (and new variants) is because too many people are still not vaccinated.

When I was a child, the life-saving polio vaccine was developed. Families didn’t question the medical and scientific community that had developed the vaccine. Instead, parents were relieved and immensely grateful to know there was a way to prevent the crippling disease from spreading — so they had their children vaccinated as soon as it was made available. Parents at that time understood the importance of keeping their family safe … and the responsibility we all have to protect our neighbors and our entire local community.

That hasn’t been the case with the COVID-19 vaccine. Even here in Irvine, nearly 25% of the population is not vaccinated. Now that children 5 years of age and older are eligible for the COVD-19 vaccine and all adults are eligible for the critical booster shot, we must do better!

The Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has launched a webpage to help parents by answering many of the questions families have concerning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for children. To access the page, click here.

Phyllis Agran, MD, MPH

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